Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wind blows in eerie anticipation, mystery

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SIX years ago, artists Irene Bindi and Aston Coles migrated from Victoria to Winnipeg.

"We didn't know anyone. We didn't have any job prospects," recalls Bindi, 34.

Both she and Coles, 31, are originally from London, Ont. So why choose Winnipeg?

They're avid birdwatchers. They were thrilled with the idea that North America's largest migratory flight path funnels over the city.

Soon after arriving, they spotted a pileated woodpecker right outside their Osborne Village apartment. "We were amazed," says Bindi. "We thought, obviously we've come to the right place."

The pair married in 2008, settled in Old St. Vital and are expecting their first child. Both have day jobs in the arts. He prepares and installs artworks at Plug In. She's the administrative co-ordinator at the Manitoba Writers' Guild.

As a sound-art performance duo called Double Hook, he makes noise music on homemade electronics and she plays the drums. She has a master's degree in film studies. He's a self-taught sculptor who proclaims himself "totally art-school free."

Both had works in the early cinema-themed show Phantasmagoria in 2010, hers a lightbox and his a zoetrope hooked up to a reconfigured gramophone.

Their joint exhibition The Wind Men Are Coming is on at Aceart until May 25. It combines unsettling photo collages by Bindi with an installation by Coles that incorporates sound.

There's a strong sense of eerie anticipation and mystery about the show. As Bindi puts it, "The potential is key." The ideas hinted at, both say, include out-of-body experiences and desire for flight.

The photo fragments in Bindi's collages are mostly from books and magazines dating from the 1940s to '70s. They seem to evoke Cold War anxiety, 1950s or '60s movies, distress and looming disaster.

"I consider these collages to be almost like condensed films," Bindi says.

"There's often a feeling of dislocation," notes the Aceart co-director who goes by the name hannah_g. "It's this dreamlike feeling, tied to a child's experience of the world."

A child's perspective is also part of Coles' installation. A little wooden chair sits in a pool of light in mid-gallery. In front of it is a tiny table, and on it, a sound-activated tape recorder.

There's no sign suggesting that the visitor sit in the chair. But those who do, uninvited like Goldilocks, get a sudden, shattering fright involving sound.

Some visitors scream. The tape recorder captures their reactions, and that human noise will be used in a future work.

Trying the chair also triggers something in a stark, grey-walled partial room that Coles has built. It contains a metal lamp that creates a pool of light, seemingly waiting for something or someone (a child?) to make an entrance.

Coles got the inspiration for all this from an apparatus that allows a bird to trigger a photograph of itself. Sitting in the chair, he says, is like the bird tripping the camera.

The artist recalls a profound experience at the age of five or six, when his parents took him to a grown-up party. Someone put on an LP that changed his life. It was by the Nihilist Spasm Band, a seminal, still-existing noise band that "plays" homemade instruments, founded in 1965 right there in London, Ont.

"I thought my brain was going to explode," Coles recalls. "That was the beginning ... and that does play into this piece -- hence the small chair."

Although Bindi and Coles didn't meet until years later as adults, the same band -- mostly made up of visual artists -- blew Bindi's mind when she was 16.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 28, 2012 G6

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